E-mail from Senator Clinton
Date: Jun 5, 2006 12:55 PM
Subject: A message from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Dear Abacaxi Mamao:
Thank you for writing to share with me your concerns regarding internet neutrality. As you may know, I support net neutrality. The open architecture of the Internet has been the critical element that has made it the most revolutionary communications medium since the advent of the television.
Each day on the Internet, views are discussed and debated in an open forum without fear of censorship or reprisal. The Internet as we know it does not discriminate among its users. It does not decide who can enter its marketplace and it does not pick which views can be heard and which ones silenced. It is the embodiment of the fundamental democratic principles upon which our nation has thrived for hundreds of years.
I have always, and will continue to, strongly and unequivocally support these principles. As I have worked throughout my Senate career to make broadband access readily available throughout New York State and our nation, I believe that maintaining an open Internet coupled with more broadband access is necessary if we are to meet the promise and the potential of the Internet to disseminate ideas and information, enhance learning, education and business opportunities for all Americans and improve and uplift our citizenry.
We must embrace an open and non-discriminatory framework for the Internet of the 21 st century. Therefore, it is my intention to be an original cosponsor of the net neutrality legislation proposed by Senators Dorgan and Snowe to ensure that open, unimpaired and unencumbered Internet access for both its users and content providers is preserved as Congress debates the overhaul of our nation's telecommunications laws.
Thank you again for writing about this issue that is important to me and to so many of my constituents. Please be assured that I will fight any efforts that would fundamentally alter the inherently democratic structure of the Internet. Updates on this and many other important issues being discussed before the United States Senate, can be found on my website http://clinton.senate.gov.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
While I'm pleased that Sen. Clinton responded to you, her response shows that she doesn't actually understand the issue and what is actually at stake in the current "net neutrality" debates. I have not heard any carrier suggest even for an instant that they would advocate censorship of ideas or anything of the sort. Rather, some carriers would like to offer what they're calling "expedited service" or some variant of that to those people who will pay a premium for doing so. There is an issue involved here - basically this is a showdown between some of the larger ISPs who own the access lines to customers' houses, and some of the content and application service providers (think Google, Vonage).
Government regulation in an evolving marketplace can freeze an unstable environment, and effectively pick "winners" and "losers" rather than letting the marketplace decide what it prefers. As an example, the 1986 Telecom act viewed Long-Distance voice services as the sine qua non of telephony, and believed that that was the appropriate place for competition. Notice that the LD giants have all either been acquired by local providers (ATT, MCI), or have largely exited the business (Sprint) in favor of cellular services.
Not an encouraging sign. I hoped for better from Sen. Clinton, because she's really tried to build a reputation based on a detail-oriented approach to policy.